SAN DIEGO, March 9, 2012 – Most Americans will “spring forward” this Sunday, March 11, long before the official start of spring, setting their clocks one hour ahead as Daylight Saving Time officially begins at 2 a.m.
There are a few exceptions. Standard time stays in place in Hawaii, Arizona, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The United States joins the majority of industrialized countries in the world in observing some type of daylight saving time. Japan, India, and China are the only major industrialized countries that do not observe some form of daylight saving time.
While losing an hour of sleep make many people cranky for a few days, others welcome the extension of sunset and look forward to the longer days of summer ahead. But some people claim that the time change negatively affects their health, ranging from mild symptoms to serious issues. Recent studies show there may be some truth to their claims.
Headaches, stress, and sleepiness are typical complaints after a time change due to the impact on your body clock. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008 reported that it’s normal for your biological rhythms to be disrupted temporarily, affecting the length of time and quality of your sleep.
The research also drew a connection between the change to daylight saving time and an increase in heart attacks for the first three days following the transition. Conversely, heart attacks drop after the change back to standard time in the fall.
Australian researchers claim daylight saving time also affects your mental health beyond just feeling a little cranky due to losing an hour of sleep. A 2008 study linked daylight saving time with an increase in male suicide rates.
Exercise to boost serotonin will help you adjust to the new time. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Low dose melatonin supplements are thought to help as well.
Myths persist about who gets credit for “inventing” daylight saving time. The concept is sometimes linked to Benjamin Franklin. He published a satire in 1784 when he was an American envoy to France suggesting Parisians save money on candles by rising earlier to use all of the morning sunlight. “Every morning as soon as the sun shall rise, church bells and, if necessary, cannon shall inform the citizenry of the advent of light and “awaken the sluggards effectually and make them open their eyes to see their true interests… Oblige a man to rise at four in the morning, and it is probable he will go willingly to bed at eight in the evening.” Not too surprising from the man who advised us “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise,” and may have found the leisurely pace of French life too lazy for his taste.
New Zealand scientist George Vernon proposed a two-hour time daylight saving time shift in a paper in 1895. English builder William Willett published a similar proposal in 1905. An avid golfer, he disliked cutting short his round at dusk. Willett lobbied unsuccessfully for the idea until his death in 1915.
Germany and Great Britain both adopted daylight saving time during World War I. American business interests started lobbying for daylight saving time, but the railroads opposed the idea. When the United States entered World War I in 1917, resistance fell and it established daylight saving time in 1918.
The U.S. did away with daylight saving time after the war in 1919. President Woodrow Wilson was an avid golfer like Willett. He tried to veto the repeal, but Congress overrode his veto. His successor Warren G. Harding disliked daylight saving time, declaring that people should get up and go to work earlier in the summer instead of shifting the clock.
Writer Robertson Davies noted in 1947, “I don’t really care how time is reckoned so long as there is some agreement about it, but I object to being told that I am saving daylight when my reason tells me that I am doing nothing of the kind. I even object to the implication that I am wasting something valuable if I stay in bed after the sun has risen. As an admirer of moonlight I resent the bossy insistence of those who want to reduce my time for enjoying it. At the back of the Daylight Saving scheme I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy and wise in spite of themselves.”
In the modern era, daylight saving time is held up as a way to save energy. It convinced the state of Indiana to adopt daylight saving time in 2005 when a state transportation study claimed residents would save $7 million in electricity costs. But it has turned out to be the opposite. Scientists from the University of California, Santa Barbara, compared energy use over three years in Indiana counties that switched from year-round standard time to daylight time. Indianans actually spent $8.6 million more each year because of daylight saving time. Due to modern conveniences such as air conditioning, Americans actually spending more on energy use at home due to the increased sun and heat in the evenings during summer.
In an effort to get all states on the same page, the Uniform Time Act decreed that starting in 1966, all clocks should be set forward on the last Sunday in April and set back the last Sunday in October. The law was amended in 1986 to start daylight saving time on the first Sunday in April. The end date was not changed and remained the last Sunday in October until 2006.
For the last 24 years, the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the Energizer company have reminded people to change and test the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors when setting the clocks to and from daylight saving time. Thirty percent of alarms and detectors are not functional at any given time due to dead batteries.
U.S. Daylight Saving Time currently begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November. So keep your cardiologist’s number handy this week.
Please note for the record there is no “S” at the end of the word “saving” in daylight saving time. This is considered to be the correct term for the practice of advancing clocks to save energy because it refers to a time for saving daylight. Nonetheless, “daylight savings time” is still commonly used in error.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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